All aboard the bus (yet again), this time we’re headed to Phnom Penh. With a driver who I swore should have developed repetitive strain injury from constantly beeping his horn, to the women sitting in front of me eating boiled eggs, to the air conditioning piling, and the horrendous amateur tv show blaring in Cambodian…it was tough. BUT at least we weren’t hungover like our new friends from America – Kyle and Peter – who have “yards” and eat “kebarbs”, and most definitely know how to party. Needless to say, we got on like a house on fire, and they were quickly initiated into our family.
After all hoping off the bus, and having a minor meltdown thinking they’d lost my bag, we all jumped on Tuk Tuks bound for Mad Monkey Hostel – Louis still shirtless at this stage, much to the amusement of the somewhat seedy Tuk Tuk drivers (Mr T in particular).
We checked in with no worries (as advertised), apart for a little hiccup with Louis and Anna who somewhat suddenly needed a private room for the night…hey hey! With good food, cheap grog, and a beer pong table, new friends quickly became best buddies. Kyle and I dominated at beer pong, and Peter and Suzie threw down some sweet dance moves. When it was time for the party to move elsewhere, Hannah was ready to go and Louis and Anna…well they barely made it out! Sharing a slice of Kati Perri’s famous pizza and a glass of Baileys, we welcomed in Christmas in style.
Next morning I woke early, no amount of alcohol will sway my Christmas spirit, and was excited to find Hannah awake in her bed too. After pulling Suzie out of bed, we raced to “mum” and “dads” private room to wake them up in true Christmas style. After opening presents each from our Kris-Kringles, and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, we stuffed our tummys like Christmas turkeys on all things delicious. A quick trip to some markets, and then to a supermarket (the first we’d seen in a while – Laos and some parts of Cambodia don’t have supermarkets, but rather small corner shops or street vendors).
Back to the hostel, where Louis enjoyed another chicken noodle soup ( it was not uncommon on this trip for him to eat in for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Back to the beer pong, where I flailed without my partner, but Suzie still had her moves, and the legendary hANNAh beer pong team from Prague 2012 made a comeback. A relatively quick trip to the Heart of Darkness club (a must do in Phom Penh) introduced some of us to the thriving gay and ‘ladyboy’ community. For once us girls could dance I. Peace, while Louis (for probably the first time) was seen with his shirt fully buttoned up. We had met a new friend that night, Matti, who had come along for the ride, and who I think was equally confused about the vibes flowing around that strobe-light and smoke machine-filled room. I’m pretty sure Anna had a good night though – getting to relive the whole night again the next day as we had to fill in her memory…
A huge change in the mood for the next day. We visited S-21 and the Killing Fields. While incredibly heavy, it is something I think every traveller through Cambodia needs to see. While I was aware somewhat of the atrocities of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw and read that day. I won’t burden you with details, that’s for you to find on your own, but something I seriously recommend everyone to look into – to truly understand the meaning of the word resilience. To think it happened only thirty or forty years ago, Cambodia is an incredible place, with an incredible history.
A smooth, air conditioned ride to Ho Chi Min City (Saigon), including wi-fi and some quality B-grade movies. We met a couple from Alaska and Louis learnt that Alaska is actually part of America (oops). But the best part of the day was being reunited with our buddies, Kyle and Peter, who were able to show us the ropes of the city. And as for the night, I couldn’t even tell you what happened if I tried…ha!
Seriously ill with the travel bug,